The Venice Drum Circle (Free Expression) 

By Ronald McKinley

The police routinely stop the Venice Drum Circle. The time is never the same, sometimes sunset, sometimes not. Sunday, November 25, at 5:10 P.M. the circle was stopped. The sunset was beautiful.

The First Amendment to the American Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights, gives us the Freedoms. The freedom to worship in your own church if you so choose, not one created by government. The freedoms of speech, press, assembly and the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances, is what makes the First Amendment the most important.

The First Amendment protects the people’s freedom to associate with others in groups that express messages of love, peace, brotherhood and sisterhood. The traditional public forums are hard to find, regulated to death.

The VDC is not a Rave, it is not a party. It is about an alternative way of expression. It is not about getting drunk or high. That is not why I go. I go to bond with my fellow earthlings.

I go despite the fact that some are altered. When I play, I transcend. Time and space are no more. The very molecules around me are energized.

At a meeting I went to recently, a man remarked that the police don’t protect and serve us, but protect and serve the law. All laws flow from the Constitution. When the police are sworn in, they take an oath to uphold the Constitution.

One police officer said, “My sergeant will be upset if he sees you on the sand.” My First Amendment rights denied because some sergeant would be upset. I just want to play my drum. I am not asking for special treatment, just my rights as an American. “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

If you do not exercise your rights, you lose them. I am amazed that people don’t know their rights. I am amazed how people don’t question what the police tell them. Don’t take what the police say as gospel; they are just humans with guns.

This has been a long time coming, shutting down the VDC incrementally. First the VDC is criminalized, then it can be stopped.

The VDC is free, it don’t cost a cent. There are not many things you can do that don’t require money. Free Expression means free. You don’t have to have a pedigree to join in. Love of music is all you need.  Enjoy it while you can. Some person with a lot of money and the ear of some government official will be its death.

A man visiting from Germany asked me why the police stopped the Drum Circle. I told him, “Because they have guns.” Welcome to America.